Using administrative data to improve mental health and substance use services in BC

Date posted: 
Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Data access has been approved for Phase Two of a project to improve planning for mental health and substance use services in British Columbia.

The British Columbia (BC) Ministry of Health (MoH) identified improving mental health and substance use (MHSU) services as a priority in 2015. More recently, the MoH refined its MHSU Strategy to better support existing programs, and address the continued need for expansion, integration, and innovation of MHSU health service planning and provision to better meet the needs of individuals and families affected by these disorders.

To support this priority area, the MoH funded a project to develop an ideal suite of services for individuals suffering from one or more of 13 distinct MHSU disorders. These include:  anxiety; alcohol and opioid related disorders; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders; feeding and eating disorders; schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders; neurocognitive disorders (NCDS) caused by traumatic brain injury or substance or medication use; and personality disorders.

This project was designed around a needs-based approach to service planning, which requires both a picture of the existing burden of these disorders in the general adult population of BC, as well as an evidence-based description of the ideal suite of services required to treat this population.

Phase One of the project, now complete, established population-level estimates of the annual prevalence and distribution of the 13 MHSU disorders selected by the Ministry, for the adult population (ages fifteen and older) within BC.

Phase Two will analyze linked administrative data to establish disorder-specific algorithms for identifying cases to monitor prevalence over time and track service-utilization patterns.

Data analysis will be performed by a team at the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addition (CARMHA). A Provincial Data Advisory Committee, comprising representatives from the MoH, the regional Health Authorities, and the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), will provide oversight for the analysis.

“Our analysis will include an exploration of whether cases can be classified by severity within the administrative data,” says Daniel Vigo, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University and CARMHA. “It is anticipated that the degree of success in this area will likely vary by disorder, according to the quality and completeness of the administrative data for a given disorder.”

The analysis will inform provincial-level service modeling through the needs-based planning approach, as well as establish a province-wide surveillance system for treated prevalence of various MSHU disorders.

PopData will link BC Ministry of Health data for the project which is funded by the BC Mental Health Foundation.

Page last revised: March 20, 2018